The students went missing after an attack on the Government Science Secondary School Kankara in Katsina State last week. On late Thursday, the Nigerian military was able to rescue 344 of the boys and take them to the state capital, according to a spokesperson for Governor Aminu Bello Masari.
According to Masari’s spokesperson, the terror organization Boko Haram was not involved in the kidnapping, but it was instead carried out by local bandits pretending to be the Islamist group.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari celebrated the rescue on Twitter. "This is a huge relief to the entire country & international community," he wrote.
He also asked for citizens to be “patient and fair” as his administration faces criticism from the EndSARS movement and other concerns about national security.
"Our administration is fully aware of the responsibility we have to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians. I ask Nigerians to be patient and fair to us as we deal with the challenges of security, the economy, and corruption. We will not relent," he tweeted.
Some of the boys were filmed during their abduction in a video sent to the Nigerian government by their captors. In the video, one of the boys is coached by someone off-camera to make demands that included closing down schools that teach “western education.” The video used the Boko Haram logo, but Masari told CNN it was local bandits who mimicked the terror group.
Prior kidnappings in the region have made international headlines, prompting responses like the #BringBackOurGirls movement.
"For me, whatever it is that happened on the ground, is a testimony to the fact that governance is ineffectual," movement co-founder Obiageli Ezekwesili told CNN about the recent kidnappings.